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There's an East Coast, West Coast Joke Here Somewhere: Previewing UNC-USC

If Michigan State was Duke with a reliable three-point shooter, Southern Cal is Virginia Tech without the uncanny ability to steal the ball. They're a more dangerous opponent for the Heels, but still one UNC should be able to handle.

The Trojans play small, often starting four players 6'6" or smaller, and depend heavily on guard play. But just like Virginia Tech, they rarely shoot from behind the arc, taking only 26% of their shots from that distance. (And like the Hokies, they hit a large number of the threes they do take.) This is a team of dribble penetration, a style which in Virginia Tech's hands burnt the Heels both in Blacksburg and Chapel Hill, and it's worrisome to come across it again.

There is a bright side however - this team doesn't have nearly the mastery of the turnover on either side of the ball as Virginia Tech. They're average both in giving to and taking from their opponents. Defensively, they're very strong on defending the shot, especially from three-point range. But their rebounding is average at best on both end of the courts, and their prone to sending opponents to the line quite a bit, both which should play to the Tar Heels strengths.

UNC won't be able to turn to the most commonly used weapon in their arsenal, though - depth. The Trojans have nine players averaging more than ten minutes a game, including three bench players above 6'10" that could be useful in just harassing Hansbrough and Wright down low.

As always, the faster Carolina drives the tempo, the better things will go, as USC prefers a slow pace and a deliberative offense. I'm more worried about this team now than I was the last time I saw them play, when they failed to show up for the Pac-10 championship game, but this is the type of team built to take down the Heels of January and February. I think the improved March version should be able to win by ten, depending on Reyshawn Terry's ever-changing status. We'll see, if the late gametime ever gets here.